Fiona McIntosh - Literature Awards - Parallel Import Restrictions
Mr Gibbons (Bendigo) (19:46): I am delighted to inform the House that Adelaide based Australian author Fiona McIntosh has won the historical fiction award at the International Book Awards for her work Fields of Gold, published by Penguin Books and—I am also delighted to say—printed in Australia by McPherson's Printing Group, in Maryborough, which is in my electorate of Bendigo. This best-selling epic tale is based loosely around Fiona McIntosh's family ancestry and illustrates the lives of two young Englishmen who travelled to India around 1918 to seek their fortunes.
Fiona McIntosh has written around 22 books and is one of a handful of Australian authors who can write successfully across multiple genres, including children's fantasy, adult fantasy, historical saga and crime. Having read some of her work, I found the clarity and attention to detail astounding. Ms McIntosh must have the intellect of an Einstein and the imagination of a Spielberg or a Disney. I found her latest crime novel, Beautiful Death, particularly enthralling and I cannot wait for her next book.
Fiona McIntosh's award follows on from some other outstanding successes from Australian authors. Sonya Hartnett, of Melbourne, recently won the Aurealis Award for her children's picture book The Boy and his Toy. She was the first Australian to win the most prestigious children's literature in the world, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. Shaun Tan, of Melbourne, recently won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and in the week before that he won the Academy Award for the best animated short film for The Lost Thing. Shaun Tan is now the most internationally awarded Australian children's writer. Australian authors have won many international awards over the years, including the Nobel Prize in Literature, won by Patrick White in 1973; the Man Booker Prize, won by Thomas Keneally in 1982, Peter Carey in 1988 and 2001 and DBC Pierre in 2003; and the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, won by Geraldine Brooks in 2006.
One of the foundations of the successful publishing sector in Australia has been maintaining parallel import restrictions (PIR), a policy introduced by the Hawke-Keating government in 1991 and re-affirmed by the Rudd government in 2009. The Productivity Commission had recommended that PIRs be removed, which would have resulted in a flood of overseas publications onto the Australian market, placing at great risk what is a thriving publishing sector and severely limiting the opportunities for Australian authors, current and future, to get their work published.
Australians enjoy access to one of the widest ranges of books in the world. They spend almost $2 billion a year on just under 130 million books. They like Australian books. Sixty per cent of the books they buy are Australian originated, six times the proportion of 50 years ago. The publishing industry employs 5,000 people directly. The book industry as a supply chain employs approximately 80,000 across Australia. With the investment security provided by the 1991 amendments, they publish 18,000 new titles—of a total of about 300,000 titles on sale—each year and export intellectual property worth $220 million a year now and rising fast. It is estimated that there are just under 4,000 publishers in Australia, of which 19, or 0.5 per cent, publish more than 100 titles per year; another 260, or seven per cent, publish between six and 100 books a year; a further 876, or 22 per cent, publish between two and five books; and 2,782, or 70 per cent, publish only one book a year.
Retail sales total between $1.7 billion and $2 billion per annum, with retailers and publishers sharing this income fifty-fifty. Over 300,000 different titles are sold in Australia each year, including new titles and the backlist, which comprises titles more than 12 months old that are still available. Australian originated books account for 60 per cent of the total books sold in Australia each year, as I said before, and more than 18,000 new titles are published in Australia a year. As I said, more than 5,000 people are employed directly by publishers, 25 per cent of whom are part time or casual. Export is active and successful, as I pointed out before, with over $220 million per annum in export and foreign rights sales around the world.
Why would anybody want to put this thriving sector at risk and retard the careers of some of the most talented authors in the world, who are proudly Australian and value-adding to our culture—authors like Fiona McIntosh, Kate Grenville, Tim Winton, Bryce Courtenay and Shane Maloney, to mention just a few? I am proud to be a member of a government that values the cultural contribution made to this nation by Australian authors over our history, and I look forward to many fine works in the future.
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